Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis with Acupuncture Chinese Herbal Medicine

 

acupunctureI treat many patients with digestive system issues. In fact, I love to treat digestive system disorders because Chinese Medicine is such an effective treatment for people who suffer from Crohns disease, IBS as well as Ulcerative Colitis. I am currently going to focus this article on the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis and Chinese Medicine.

Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory disorder of the large intestine (colon). This is a chronic condition that develops over time. Symptoms can include urgency to defecate, diarrhea and bloody stools.  There are times when symptoms are present known as “attacks” and times of remission.

In Chinese Medicine, treatment for Ulcerative Colitis first begins with understanding the pathology of each individual person’s case. Once the pathology is diagnosed, treatment is specific to each individual case. Many people can come to me with a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis but they may have different treatment approaches because the root issue of their individual case is different.  Therefore, I give a treatment protocol of Acupuncture and a Chinese herbal formula, which are tailored to each individual case. The aim of treatment is to help restore the gut’s ability to absorb nutrients properly and reduce inflammation. Ultimately, once the digestive system is restored back to help, symptoms are alleviated.

Case Example of the Treatment of Chinese Medicine and Ulcerative Colitis

Steven (name change for patient’s anonymity) was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and had symptoms for six years ago. He would go to the bathroom up to 12 times per day, even getting up in the middle of the night. He experienced loose stools that had blood and mucus.  He also experienced very low energy and anxiety when he was not near a bathroom. Steven had gone to three gastroenterologists in order to help with his symptoms. He was prescribed steroids to help reduce the inflammation in the large intestine. At times this would help, but lately he complained that he had symptoms all the time.

After meeting with Steven, it was clear that his digestive system was extremely deficient. In Chinese Medicine, the spleen, which helps absorb nutrients into the blood stream, was weak. Therefore, he was not absorbing food properly. Fluid accumulated in his gut and would be excreted out in the form of loose stools. The spleen also hold’s blood in the blood vessel, so when the spleen is deficient, blood can show up in the stools. Mucus was a clear indication that he had pathological fluids that were not being properly distributed in his body.  In treating Steven’s ulcerative colitis, he came in for weekly acupuncture treatments and he was prescribed an individualized Chinese herbal formula that he took daily.  After just four treatments, his bowel movements were reduced by more than 50%. He went to the bathroom 3-4 xs per day and the blood in his stools had stopped. After 8 sessions, he had experienced no blood or mucus in his stools and bowel movements were reduced to 1-2 x per day and they were solid as opposed to loose. In three months time, his energy is “amazing”, he now exercises, he can eat almost anything he wants and he does not suffer anxiety. He is truly amazed that he feels normal. He now goes to see friends and has resumed dating. What is the most important thing after treatment is shifting or changing behaviors that led him to his digestive system getting weakened. We spoke about diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. Chinese Medicine offers a holistic approach to treating Ulcerative Colitis and the most important aspect of treatment is treating the root issue and not just covering up symptoms. Once people are better, giving them the knowledge to be aware and understand their own body so that they can make the right decisions in order to be healthier is what I call “a transformation in health”.

If you are suffering from Ulcerative Colitis or other digestive system disorders, please call our office at 917.763.8560 to schedule an appointment.

 

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Treatment by acupuncture. The doctor uses needles for treatment of the patient.

Acupuncture is one of the leading treatments used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Chinese Medicineone of the world’s oldest and most powerful traditional medicines, is used in today’s modern world to combat and treat many health disorders. 

Acupuncture is the insertion of small thin needles into certain points located on the body’s surface. There are hundreds of points throughout the body and each point influences the body’s internal dynamics in a different way.To create homeostasis within the body,  a combination of points is used to release a therapeutic affect on an individual.

When a person has a health issue, understanding the root issue, followed by treating the specific root issue, helps the body heal naturally. Mostly importantly, it is a non-invasive way to help treat health conditions. The reason I love acupuncture and why I practice, is because I believe in healing people by treating the root issue and not just covering up symptoms.

Let’s look at how a treatment works. When patients first come into my office for an initial consultation, I go through their health history, and ask many questions in order to understand what types of imbalances are present.Since the body works as a whole, if someone came to me for digestive system issues, factors such as sleep, anxiety, stress, as well as their energy level, gives me input to the root of their digestive system issues. Once I understand the underlying issues of their digestive system issues, I form an acupuncture treatment protocol. I then use a combination of acupuncture points, which may be on the stomach, hands, legs, feet and/or head. Each acupuncture point affects the body’s internal organs, energy flow, and circulation, and in combination, these points aid in strengthening the digestive system as well as unblocking any stuck energy. Of course, a certain amount of treatments are needed in order to alleviate
the symptoms. The most important thing I tell patients is that treatments work on a root level so as they feel better, the main goal is to change any lifestyle habits in order to truly transform their health and prevent their health issues from coming back.


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Hot flashes occur when estrogen is lowered. It is a sign of peri-menopause. Many people do not realize that hot flashes can occur even when perimenopause is not taking place. I recently had a patient who was suffering from hot flashes at 35 years old. She also was having delayed menstruation. Her hormone panel showed the she had high FSH and told her she was going through early stages of peri-menopause. He prescribed her Hormone Replacement Therapy in order for her to menstruate and reduce the hot flashes she was experiencing. He wanted to keep up her estrogen levels so that she would not suffer from bone loss which can lower when estrogen lowers.  She reluctantly went on HRT therapy but was concerned about her overall health. When Louisa (name changed due to patient anonymity) came to see me, she was on HRT therapy for two years. She expressed her concerns of being on it for the rest of her life and wanted a more natural way to deal with her hot flashes.

 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, hot flashes normally occur because of an insufficiency of fluids called “yin”. Yin fluids cool our body. When our body is balanced and homeostasis is at an equilibrium, we should not feel hot nor cold. When yin fluids are insufficient or depleted, the cooling unit is lowered; therefore, heat rises and hot flashes can occur. This can be very extreme and cause a lot of discomfort in women. Hormone replacement therapy is the main way to reduce hot flashes. Louisa and I discussed going off HRT and beginning Chinese herbal medicine. I explained to her that it would take some time to restore her hormones in order for menstruation to take place. Louisa went off HRT and began a blend of Chinese herbal medicine that was tailored specifically to her body. As she went off HRT and began herbs, she only experience slight heat but no hot flashes. Her menstruation came back in three months and she no longer experienced being warm nor had any signs of hot flashes. I gave her a list of dietary recommendations as well as recommended a reduction of stress and increased sleep which are critical to restoring fluids. She now menstruates on her own and does not experience hot flashes. I felt this was an important step in her overall health and reproductive health in a natural way.

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When my twins turned one years’ old, I was wondering whether to transition them to goat’s milk or cow’s milk.  When my daughter was an infant, she had a pretty bad case of eczema and as an acupuncturist, I knew that cow’s milk was harder to digest, so when it was time for both my daughter and son to transition to whole milk, I was hesitant on starting them off with cow’s milk. In Chinese Medicine, cow’s milk is heavy on the digestive system,that is why many people get stomach pain while consuming milk. TCM also identifies milk as a”damp” food meaning that it can cause mucous productionwhich can lead to eczema, allergies, hives as well as other health disorders.

I decided to have both my son and daughter try cow’s milk. The odd thing is my daughter had no reaction but son had  flare-ups of eczema.  I decided to switch my son from cow’s milk to goat’s milk, which to my surprise, is now sold in certain grocery stores like Whole Foods.

Goat’s milk has many benefits. In fact, goat’s milk is consumed in many parts of the world. Goat’s milk is given to many infants because it is most similar to breast milk. It is also easy to digest which is good for a baby’s immature stomach. Goats milk also contain many nutrients and is soothing to the stomach, which is why it is a great alternative to those who cannot consume cow’s milk. It contains less vitamin b 6 and b12 so it is important to fortify one’s diet in those nutrients if goat’s milk is consumed. The great news is that since my son has switched over to goat’s milk his eczema immediately went away. Goat’s milk is a great alternative for babies are individuals who are lactose intolerant or have food allergies due to milk.

 

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The Importance of Getting Educated On the Birth Control Pill

I treat many women who are trying to get pregnant after being on the birth control pill for many years. It always amazes me that there is not enough information that is given to women in regards to the pill. Many females are prescribed the birth control pill for a variety of reasons-birth control, PMS, reduction of painful menstruation, hormonal acne, as well as to help regulate their cycle. In many cases, women start the pill at an early age and continue it throughout their 20’s.  While many women may experience the return of the menstrual cycle without any issues after stopping the pill, others have issues with irregular menstruation as well as amenorrhea (absence of their menstrual cycle). I often see these types of cases in my office, my patients who are trying to get pregnant after being on the pill for some time. In certain cases, there are underlying issues such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome that can cause irregular menstruation.  In other cases, there was no cause to amenorrhea or the absence of their period. Let’s take a look first in how the pill works.

The pill is a blend of estrogen and progestin and in some pills only progestin. The combination of hormones work to inhibit ovulation, as well as increase cervical mucus, which makes it harder for sperm to pass through.  That is how it works to inhibit pregnancy. A period takes place after stopping progestin. It signals to the body to shed the uterine lining.  Therefore, although you are getting a period, it is not your natural period taking place.  There are many benefits to taking the pill because of that–the natural hormonal activity is not taking place and many symptoms related to menstruation can cease. However, the issue lies in just that–exogenous hormones are being put in one’s system–the natural hormonal activity of the menstrual cycle is not taking place. Therefore, it does not really act to regulate menstruation. Furthermore, if there are issues that occur, it can go undetected for years until a woman finally goes off the pill.  That is normally the time when I see these cases.  It is important to be educated on the birth control pill particularly if you would like to get pregnant.

On The BCP and Thinking of Getting Pregnant

If you are trying to get pregnant or have been on the birth control pill for many years, going off the pill for a year before wanting to actually try to get pregnant will allow one to address any issues that may be present.   It also allows one cycle to return. It can take time for a female’s period to resume after being on the pill for many years so it is important to have time on one’s side and seek treatment if there are issues after stopping the pill.

Timing

I often recommend to my patients who have been on the birth control pill for many years to stop it and let their period resume.  They can go on the pill at a later point but it is good to let the body’s natural hormones and cycle take place.  It also can give one indication if there are underlying reproductive issues going on. Of course, if you decide to stop the pill, you must have other types of contraception.

Resolution of Symptoms

If you are on the pill for painful menstruation, acne, irregular menstruation as well as other types of health issues, there are other options that you can seek out.  Many of my patients have told me that they wish they knew of other options to treat their health issues. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are successful natural treatments for many women’s menstrual disorders such as hormonal acne, PCOS, painful menstruation, irregular menstruation and PMS.

I hope you enjoyed this article; if you have any questions, please feel free to contact deb@sage-wellness.com.

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SPRING ALLERGIES AND CHINESE MEDICINE  

    With nature and trees in bloom, allergies are predominant this time of year.  I believe the best treatment for allergies is to get to the root of the issue.  Decongestants provide relief moment, but unfortunately allergy symptoms come back full force. Try acupuncture to help relieve your allergy symptoms.  The theory behind treatment for allergies is to build the body’s immune function in order to resist the allergy response.  Acupuncture also helps to reduce inflammation in the nasal passageways and boost the immune system to ward off pathogens such as pollen, trees and other pathogens that are predominant this time of year. I normally treat with a two-pronged approach. Initially I treat the acute symptoms such as sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, nasal congestion and sinus headaches. After the symptoms go away, I treat the root condition of what is causing the allergies to manifest. That way you’re not only alleviating symptoms, but preventing them from coming back.

An easy tip at-home treatment that you can do to reduce nasal congestion from allergies is a mint vapor steam. Boil water and throw some mint leaves in.  Then put a towel over your head and breathe in the steam. Make sure that the steam is not too hot so you don’t burn yourself. Sinus washes are good too, but be careful because water can get stuck in the nasal passageways and exacerbate your symptoms.

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When you are going through IVF it is not only an emotional roller coaster ride but also can be financially draining.  You are looking for everything to help boost your chances of getting pregnant. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat infertility and now it used as an integrative approach for women undergoing assisted fertility treatments such as IUI and IVF.

One study done showed 42.5% of women who were undergoing acupuncture and IVF get pregnant compared to the control group of 21.3% pregnancy rate who did not receive acupuncture pre and post transfer.1

How Does Acupuncture Work With IVF?

Acupuncture helps to correct imbalances in the reproductive system that may be impeding a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.  Therefore, the most optimal time to start acupuncture is 2-3 months before undergoing IVF to help correct those imbalances and support the reproductive system thus enabling a healthier uterine environment for IVF. Once a woman is undergoing IVF, acupuncture helps to:

  • Increase blood flow to the uterus which is important for implantation
  • Stimulate follicle growth
  • Reduce Stress
  • Build A Healthy Uterine Lining

Acupuncture During Follicular-Stimulating Stage

Ideally, I see patients twice during their stimulation phase.  This is when follicle stimulating drugs are administered to enhance follicle growth.  The main goal is to produce a good amount of eggs and good quality eggs.  Acupuncture during this time helps to support the reproductive system and stimulates follicular growth.

Acupuncture During Retrieval Stage

During the retrieval, when the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries to be fertilized, I like to see patients before their retrieval for acupuncture. This helps to bring blood flow to the ovaries and remove any obstructions such as dampness or blood stasis to help fertilization take place.

Acupuncture During Transfer Stage

This is normally the time of anxiety.  It is finally here to transfer the fertilized eggs.  I see patients before their transfer and then 24 to 48 hours after their transfer.  Acupuncture given before transfer enables blood flow to the uterus, helps to relax the patient thus relaxing muscles and priming the uterine environment for implantation.

A post transfer treatment helps to reduce uterine spasms, thus supporting implantation.

If you want more information or have specific questions, please call our office at 917.763.8560 to schedule a complimentary 20 minute phone consultation.

References:

Paulus WE, Zhang M, Strehler E, El-Danasouri I, Sterzik K. Influence of acupuncture on the pregnancy rate in patients who undergo assisted reproduction therapy. Fertil Steril 2002; 77: 721-4.

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In my practice, along with a full interview and medical assessment, tongue diagnosis is one of the main tools I use to understand my patients’ state of health. Most patients are embarrassed to stick out their tongues or they wonder what I am doing staring it. So I am going to educate you on what I look for by observing the tongue and how the tongue is used as a gateway to your health.

Tongue diagnosis has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In TCM, the tongue is known as an internal organ that you can see from the outside. Therefore, it is a great diagnostic tool to understand the health of the internal organs as well as the overall health of the human body.

In Chinese Medicine, the tongue is divided into different organ systems. Geographically, the center of the tongue is the digestive system or spleen and stomach region. The back of the tongue is the reproductive system or kidney region. The sides of the tongue are the liver and gallbladder region and the upper region and tip of the tongue are the lung and heart organ systems.

In observing the tongue, the first thing I look at is the shape. There are many different shapes that indicate different symptoms. To name a few, a quivering tongue can mean energy deficiency of the spleen or digestive system. A hammer shape tongue can indicate emotional disorders and an enlarged tongue may indicate digestive system issues.

The size of the tongue can indicate if there is a deficiency in blood or fluids in the body, which can be seen in insomnia, anxiety, and headaches.

The color of the tongue indicates if there is heat, a deficiency of yang, or stasis andstagnation in the body, which can indicate pain, menstrual cramps or irritability.

The coat of the tongue tells about the fluid physiology of the body. A thin coat or lack of coat can suggest a lack of fluids in the body, as seen in insomnia, anxiety, and menopause. A thick coat can be seen in such disorders as depression, ovarian cysts, fatigue, fibromyalgia and headaches.

Cracks in the tongue can indicate dryness or blood deficiency. Disorders seen with a cracked tongue are skin or vaginal dryness, shortened menstrual flow, poor memory, insomnia and PMS.

Scallops, which are crevices on the sides of the tongue, can indicate digestive system issues, edema or fatigue.

 

A Case Study Using Tongue Diagnosis

41-Year-Old Female With Anxiety
This is a case study of a patient that came in with a chief complaint of anxiety. She was consistently worried and cried very easily. Other symptoms were insomnia and a poor memory. She also complained of always being tired. As I observed her tongue, it appeared small and pale with cracks in the center as well as scallops on the side of the tongue.

Her diagnosis in Chinese Medicine was anxiety due to heart blood and spleen qi deficiency. The first thing to notice in this case was the size of the tongue, which was small. This indicated there was not enough blood to fill the tongue. Supportive evidence of blood insufficiency was also seen in the central cracks of the tongue. The paleness of the tongue indicated both a blood and energy deficiency. The scallops indicated extra fluids in the body due to a weak digestive system, which is due to a spleen qi deficiency.

The physiology behind her tongue diagnosis was her spleen, which is one of the main organs in the digestive system. Because the spleen is one of the main organs that nourish energy, fatigue appears when it is weak. When the spleen is deficient it cannot properly produce sufficient blood to the heart and therefore, when the heart is not properly nourished anxiety and insomnia are present. Using my diagnosis I treated her with acupuncture and an herbal prescription called Gui Pi Tang as well as gave her some dietary recommendations to follow.

The outcome was that she felt more willpower and was not constantly worried all the time. She felt more centered and she had a dramatic increase in energy.  As a result, her tongue body began to change. It became more pink and enlarged. Her skin tone was not as pale and she had a better overall complexion. This is an example of how tongue diagnosis reflects the overall health of the body and can be used as a diagnostic tool when treating a patient.

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In order to truly heal patients of health disorders, it is important to understand the emotional aspect that may be a causative factor to why their individual health issue came about. In Chinese Medicine, there are seven emotions. Each emotion is normal to experience, but an exuberance of any one emotion can affect certain organ systems in the body and result in health disorders.

Grief

A bereavement or situation where someone is grieving can affect the lung organ. Asthma, chronic cough or shortness of breath can develop from grief.

Sorrow
Extreme sorrow also affects the lungs and can result in lung pathology.

Worry

Worry affects the digestive system. People who worry all the time can experience digestive system disorders such as IBS, bloating or gas.

Fear

Fear affects the kidneys. In Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are the organs responsible for development of the body, bone structure and reproductive development. Health disorders that may develop as a result of fear include urinary problems, back issues, menstrual disorders or sexual disorders.

Joy
Joy affects the heart. Although joy is an emotion that most people like to experience, an excess of the emotion can affect the heart because it can lead to sorrow. Physical manifestations may be heart palpitations, excessive laughter, poor concentration and memory.

Anger
Anger and pent up emotions lead to frustration, which affects the liver. Painful menstruation, PMS, shortness of breath, UTI’s and headaches can appear.

Fright

Fright affects the heart organ, which can manifest in a similar manner to the heart disorders seen in too much joy. Examples include heart palpitations, poor concentration and memory, or waking up suddenly at 5am.

Developing a keen sense of awareness to your body enables you to understand how emotions can affect your overall health. Ultimately, we need to treat not only our physical ailments, but also emotional imbalances in order to truly heal the body and treat the root cause of certain ailments and disease.




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Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most commonly seen disorders by doctors. Some of the symptoms associated with IBS are abdominal cramping, urgency to defecate, gas, bloating, loose stools, constipation or stools that alternate from loose to constipation. Mucous may also appear in the stool.  In diagnosing IBS, diagnostic medical tests often reveal “normal” findings and therefore people who suffer from IBS often get frustrated with lack of treatment. So let’s look at this disorder in a more energetic way. First, we need to identify what the digestive system does and what happens when it does not function properly and then understand the effectiveness that Chinese Medicine has on this disorder.

In IBS, the digestive system is not functioning efficiently and therefore gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea or both appear.  In Chinese Medicine, there are differences in symptoms that constitute different treatment protocols. Therefore, it is not under the umbrella of one diagnosis. Let’s look at the different diagnosis and treatments in Chinese Medicine for IBS.

Spleen Qi Deficiency

This type of condition presents with patients who experience diarrhea and stomach pain that is relieved by pressure. They also may experience fatigue or depression.

Spleen and Kidney Yang Deficiency

IBS symptoms can appear as abdominal cramping, loose stools, and urgency to defecate. This type of condition is worse when one eats cold or raw foods. People with spleen and kidney yang deficiency can experience cold hands and feet and feel generally cold.

Liver and Spleen Disharmony

This person may have experienced IBS when they were going through a stressful time. Stress makes the symptoms worse.  They may experience pain in the lower left abdominal region as well as constipation.

Cold In The Spleen

This type of condition presents with severe pain that is relieved by warmth, this type of presentation also is accompanied with constipation.

Damp Heat In The Large Intestine

This type of condition presents with an urgency to defecate with diarrhea that is odorous with gas and bloating as well as a burning sensation when one takes a bowel movement.

Chinese Medicine treats IBS very effectively. The method of treatment for IBS is specific to the diagnosis. Different herbs and acupuncture treatments are used with each condition as well as dietary recommendations in order to not only treat the symptoms but to further prevent them from appearing. For example, a spleen deficient diagnosis would call for boosting the digestive energy since it is weak. Bu zhong yi qi tang is a famous herbal prescription used in this type of condition. Along with this herbal formula, acupuncture points would be specific to nourishing and tonifying the digestive system. In liver qi stagnation types of IBS, the treatment protocol is to move the liver energy, which creates the pain in the lower left quadrant in the abdominal region. With this diagnosis, I normally base my formula on Xiao Yao San which relaxes the liver and moves stagnation as well as tonifies the digestive system. Acupuncture points are used to open the flow of energy in the digestive tract and decrease stress, which is the primary component that causes this condition.  As each diagnosis is clearly treated, certain foods are also given to my patients in order to start balancing their digestive system.

The beauty of Chinese Medicine is that it specifically treats the individual and that is why it is so effective. As treatment is aimed at reducing and clearing symptoms, the factors that are causing the digestive system to become imbalanced need to addressed such as lifestyle, stress and eating habits. All together, there is a “whole” approach to treat IBS as well as keep it from reappearing. It is small changes that one has to do in order to prevent bigger problems in the future.

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